The Dopamine Receptor Gene
The dopamine receptor DRD2, functions to regulate synthesis, storage and release of dopamine. Mutations in the DRD2 gene can inhibit dopamine production and activity, leading to psychiatric and psychotic effects as well as an increased risk for addiction and neuropsychiatric diseases. All current antipsychotic prescription drugs target the DRD2 receptor, and variants in this receptor can predict a poor response or side effects from some of these medications. Dopamine is a “pleasure chemical”—in normal levels it brings us joy and euphoria. But there can be too much of a good thing. Too much dopamine can lead to agitation, mania, insomnia or more—it can also make you more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Understanding at a genetic level what’s causing these symptoms allow you and your doctor to find the right medication that blocks the flow of excess dopamine into your system—thereby making your symptoms much regulated over time.